President Hassan Rouhani of Iran on Tuesday called the White House “mentally retarded” and vowed that Tehran would not be intimidated by American sanctions — drawing a blistering threat of “obliteration” from President Trump.“Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, calling Mr. Rouhani’s comments “ignorant and insulting.”
Iran shot down a United States surveillance drone early Thursday, both nations said, but they differed on the crucial issue of whether the aircraft had violated Iranian airspace, in the latest escalation in tensions that have raised fears of war between the two countries.Iranian officials said that the drone was over Iran, which the American military denied — an important distinction in determining who was at fault — and each side accused the other of being the aggressor.
Prince Mohammed bin Zayed grew the U.A.E.’s power by following America’s lead. He now has an increasingly bellicose agenda of his own. At times, the prince has contradicted American policy and destabilized neighbors. Rights groups have criticized him for jailing dissidents at home, for his role in creating a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and for backing the Saudi prince whose agents killed the dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi.
Saudi agents were waiting when Jamal Khashoggi walked into their country’s consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. Mr. Khashoggi was dead within minutes, beheaded, dismembered, his fingers severed, and within two hours the killers were gone, according to details from audio recordings described by a senior Turkish official on Wednesday.
The disappearance of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi is opening a rift between Washington and Saudi Arabia as the kingdom blasted President Trump on Sunday for promising “severe punishment” if the royal court was responsible. If Saudi Arabia “receives any action, it will respond with greater action,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement, citing the oil-rich kingdom’s “influential and vital role in the global economy.”
A cooperating witness in the special counsel investigation worked for more than a year to turn a top Trump fund-raiser into an instrument of influence at the White House for the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to interviews and previously undisclosed documents.
President Trump has done business with royals from Saudi Arabia for at least 20 years, since he sold the Plaza Hotel to a partnership formed by a Saudi prince. Mr. Trump has earned millions of dollars from the United Arab Emirates for putting his name on a golf course, with a second soon to open. He has never entered the booming market in neighboring Qatar, however, despite years of trying.
Escalating a feud among Persian Gulf monarchs, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Friday listed 59 people and a dozen organizations said to have links to Qatar, including prominent Qatari businessmen, politicians and royalty, as aiding terrorism. Germany’s foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, had previously attributed the escalation of the dispute to what he called a dangerous “Trumpification” of regional politics.